Legos are amazing toys that provide ample opportunities for creativity, open-ended play, and learning STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), but they are also pretty expensive. (Also, if you’ve ever stepped on a Lego, you’d know the meaning of excruciating pain.) Well, it turns out the money you’ve spent buying all those bricks for your children is a good investment — secondhand Legos are incredibly valuable.
According to research from Russia’s Higher School of Economics, Legos have extremely high value when sold secondhand — with even a higher rate of return than gold, bonds, and stocks.
Victoria Dobrynskaya, an assistant professor at the Higher School of Economics, studied 2,000 Lego sets produced between 1980 to 2014, then compared their retail cost to how much it would profit on the secondhand market in 2015. She found that many Lego sets showed a return rate of 11%, while others could be sold at 613% — wow!
“Although it may seem odd to invest in a toy, a huge secondary market for Lego sets with tens of thousands of investors developed in the 2000s,” noted the study. “Lego is not just a toy, but also a reasonable alternative investment with average returns comparable to stock returns, low market, and crash risks and a positive alpha.”
The fact that the toy is so accessible makes it undervalued and overlooked, but Dobrynskaya shares that Lego’s popularity as a potential investment is precisely because it “does not belong to the luxury segment.”
What started as small, interlocking plastic bricks have evolved into set themes, like robots, castles, dinosaurs, trains, and more. Licensed themes from cartoon and film franchises, including Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Minecraft, made the toy even more popular not just to kids but to adults as well.
The reason why Lego is so valuable is because of its popularity among adults. There are thousands of used Lego sets online — collectibles — being sold for as high as $10,000 (around Php520,000).
Dobrynskaya’s study, titled “The Toy of Smart Investors,” found that Lego retires sets about every two years. Once these are taken off the shelves, their value increases on the secondhand market. The most profitable ones are from movie franchises like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Marvel.
Not all Lego sets are profitable. The highest rate at which a used Lego set was sold was for a Star Wars Darth Revan set, sold in 2014 for $3.99 (Php207.48.) and then sold in the auction website eBay a year later for $28.46 (Php1,479.92). That’s about 613 percent markup from the original price.
Of course, there are special Lego sets that are resold at jaw-dropping prices. The Lego Millennium Falcon, which retailed for $500 (Php26,000) in 2007, now has an asking price of $7,000 to $9,000 (Php364,000 to Php468,000) on eBay. A Statue of Liberty set which retailed for about $200 (Php10,400) is now being resold for over $1,600 (Php83,200).
If you have old Lego sets lying around the house, Dobrynskaya says the valuable ones are the vintage sets and themed sets that come with interest — seasonal sets, movie-themed ones, and advanced building editions. It will also have more value if it is sealed.
So, should you hoard Legos while at the toy store? That would depend if you had the patience to wait and sell until they are no longer available in stores and also to research appropriate prices online. (A good tip on Reddit’s Flipping page is to sell Lego bricks by color, in bulk, or listing all the tiny Lego mini figures, which people seem to be obsessed about.)
If you’re just thinking of getting one because you really like it, the high price tag may be justified by the fact that you can resell it later (Father’s Day gift, anyone?). Of course, there’s also the chance that you’ll be getting Lego sets that aren’t profitable. Like any investment, these toys also come with risks.
Perhaps the most important thing is that your kids can enjoy the toys you buy for them — more so if you are beside them, playing along. The beauty of Lego is that kids aren’t the only ones who can play with it — those who are young at heart can have a lot of fun, too!